Letter: Okanagan Pride speaks out on global LGBT rights
To the editor:
We are very concerned that oppression, brutality, hostility and murder of LGBT (lespian, gay, bisexual, transgendered) people in many countries around the world appear to be escalating.
In a country such as Canada which is seen as a leader in LGBT and human rights it is both shocking and surreal. As we see the news stories and videos coming from Russian, Iran, Uganda, Brazil, Belarus, Kenya and many other countries highlighting this brutality against humanity, we are heartbroken. We ask ourselves: “What can we do and where do we start?”
As a member organization of InterPride our society does have the ability to impact change on a global level. This is InterPride’s vision and mission: “Our shared vision is a world where there is full cultural, social and legal equality for all. Our mission is to increase the capacity of its network of LGBTI Pride organizations around the world to raise awareness of cultural, social and legal inequality, and to effect positive change through education, collaboration, advocacy and outreach.” www.interpride.org
At the 2013 InterPride annual conference, Okanagan Pride donated $500 to InterPride’s Solidarity Fund which is used to support Pride organizations operating in hostile environments. We are hosting a “One Love” Valentine’s Dance for Solidarity, Love and Equality on Feb. 14 at Level Club in Kelowna to raise funds to replenish our donation fund for InterPride. See www.okanaganpride.com for event details.
This is an opportunity for anyone in the Okanagan to come out and contribute to this fundraiser while we celebrate not only Valentine’s Day but the freedom we enjoy, and to stand in solidarity with those who suffer. Donations and sponsorship of this event in the way of cash and door prizes may be made by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. You will be making a difference globally with your donation. We will also have a giant poster at the event to collect signatures and words of hope and solidarity for our Russian friends.
The news is alive with stories from the Sochi Olympics. Many LGBT activists and activist organizations have taken the opportunity of world attention on Sochi to promote global awareness of the anti-gay law that was implemented in Russia in June 2013. This law appears to have given license to groups of thugs to declare open season on hunting down, torturing, raping and killing LGBT people. It takes away the right of anyone to support LGBT people, as well as the right of NGOs (non-governmental organizations) to provide support .
It is hard to comprehend the brutality and fear that goes with it. Even perhaps more damaging is the youth who identify as LGBT as they now have nowhere to turn. This has already resulted in a rise in suicides among Russian youth. 
As an organization that works toward the celebration of diversity we believe in standing in solidarity and love for all those who do not enjoy what we do. It is also important to continue our efforts to provide both moral and financial support once the hype of the Olympics is over and the media, athletes and guests have all gone home.
 Russia: “Foreign Agents” Law Hits Hundreds of NGOs: Updated January, 31 2014 – Human Rights Watch
 Cost of indulgence: Rise in violence and suicides among LGBT youth in Russia - Harvard.